The Pill Caused Unprecedented Marital Breakdown In Western World : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

The Pill Caused Unprecedented Marital Breakdown In Western World

By Jose A Bufill - Detroit Free Press> From Rich Kuchinsky 5-11-00

Forty years ago, the birth control pill changed American sexuality. The world is now a different place. According to Princeton University historian Lawrence Stone, "The scale of marital breakdown in the West since 1960 has no historical precedent that I know of and seems unique." To what extent can this be attributed to the Pill? In 1960, oral contraceptives were first marketed to American women. For the first time ever, women were handed a biological on-off switch to control their fertility. Hailed by some as the last, long-awaited step on the march toward women's reproductive rights, the prospect of asserting near complete control over baby-making came as a shock to most. Social engineers understood that they would need to push the Pill slowly before the practice of contraception could take root and flourish. They first approached married women, offering them a private, reliable way to space their babies. Back then, to prescribe the Pill to unmarried women would be an invitation to immoral behavior. It didn't take long for traditional sensibilities to dull. By the end of 1970s, oral contraception passed from being an intensely personal -- and at times distasteful -- practice to a popular, liberating expression of newfound freedoms, and in some circles nothing less than a civic duty. At last, men and women could mate without the looming risk of unwanted children. For the first time ever, sex and its perks were effectively disengaged from procreation. What we sadly overlooked was the damaging logic inherent to contraceptive practice, the mentality that acceptance of contraception gradually imposed on our society: If sex without babies is now possible and even preferable, why not sex without marriage? Thanks to the Pill, sex could be promoted as pure recreation, so why not try any and all varieties? After 40 years, it's time to take stock of the effects of the Pill on our society. Contraception corrupts authentic human sexuality, damaging family life at its root. Sex is meant to be an intimate dialogue; a full, uninhibited exchange between a man and woman. A tie that truly binds. With their dialogue, the couple help create a new "word" never before expressed: a new life. Contraception makes sex a monologue. The only word uttered is a resounding "me." Contraceptive sex is monotonous because nothing truly new and exciting emerges from it. When new life is removed from sex, the source of sex's vitality and meaning withers and dies. By accepting the practice of contraceptive sex as a legitimate expression of our humanity, the language of contraception gradually seeps into and undermines every aspect of family life. Almost imperceptibly, the prospect of new human life becomes subordinated to mutual gratification. A child is no longer seen as a gift valued for his or her own sake, but as a product retained or discarded on a whim. The contraceptive mind-set inclines us to view children like any other commodity: "I'll get one when I can afford it." Spouses gradually begin to view themselves as accomplices trying to balance competing interests, rather than equal partners bound together by love for life. Almost imperceptibly, their relationship becomes an affirmation of the "me," not of the "us." The language of contraception is this: Pleasure and convenience first, people second. Most of us might find it difficult to recognize this attitude explicitly in our own lives, yet who could deny that it has become the prevailing attitude in our society? After 40 years, the effects of this mentality are painfully obvious. Statistical data point to a devaluation of family life on every front. The United States has high rates of divorce and abortion, teenage pregnancy and unwed motherhood, fatherless families and adolescent suicide. It would seem that the only persons liberated by the Pill were men, freed from the responsibility of children and fatherhood. Their partners learned the hard way that sex without babies means sex without commitment, and sex without commitment is no fun. American families should open their eyes and recognize the promise of contraception has not been fulfilled. After 40 years it is clear that enduring family values have very little to do with family planning.

-- Flash (flash@flash.hq), May 14, 2000


Sorry, no paragarph spacing!


-- Flash (flash@flash.hq), May 14, 2000.


I read the whole thing, but I started questioning when I got to "oral contraception passed from being an intensely personal -- and at times distasteful practice" How exactly was oral contraception distasteful?

Of course the article moved on to "Contraceptive sex is monotonous because nothing truly new and exciting emerges from it." Uh-huh!

I couldn't get into the link [due to my server], but has surpassed itself on this one. When do they link oral contraceptives to the shape-shifting aliens?

-- Anita (, May 14, 2000.

Hi Anita,

The Sightings web site seems to have gone down, shortly after I extracted this piece. No particular endorsement on this from me. Just something I decided to post to stimulate discourse. As always, your opinions are highly regarded by me.

-- Flash (flash@flash.hq), May 14, 2000.

This article sounds like it was written in the 60's. Contraception has been around a little longer than that. Condoms, oral sex (my favorite), the rhythm method, mutual masturbation, pull-out... All here for the same reason. Have fun while not making a baby.


-- Sysman (, May 14, 2000.

Does anyone else think this person has a really unsatisfying sex life?

-- Tarzan the Ape Man (, May 14, 2000.

From: Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr (pic), near Monterey, California

oral contraception passed from being an intensely personal -- and at times distasteful practice

Are they talking about the way oral contraception was practiced before the pill? =(8-0)

-- Dancr (addy.available@my.webpage), May 15, 2000.

From: Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr (pic), near Monterey, California

But seriously... I believe that the higher divorce statistics can be more reasonably explained by the fact that the pill drastically upsets the power balance in marriage, causing reverberations across a whole wide range of life choices from career to debt to the number of children born. Other major contributors to this change have been no fault divorce, longer life expectancy, better survival through infancy, and the availability of medical intervention for the elderly primapara (women who postpone their first child). Western culture still teaches us many maladaptive attitudes and habits for dealing with this whole changed dynamic.

There seems to be some consensus that divorce rates rose in the sixties and seventies, leveled off in the eighties and has experienced a slow decline since that time. If my explanation is correct we might expect divorce statistics to continue their slow decline, finally settling at some level considerably above the practical zero level of ages past.

-- Dancr (addy.available@my.webpage), May 15, 2000.

I realize this is extremely nit-picky, but:

"The Pill Caused Unprecedented Marital Breakdown In Western World"

The pill didn't 'cause' anything. People's choices, based in part upon availability of oral contraceptives, produced unprecedented marital breakdown, blah, blah.

I no like read folks blaming inanimates for THEIR OWN CHOICES.


-- Bingo1 (, May 15, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ